CLIA: Eight of 10 Travel Agents Expect Cruise Sales to Rise in 2016

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released the 2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, forecasting continued growth for the cruise industry in 2016. 

2016 cruise industry outlook infographic

Nearly 24 million passengers are expected to sail in 2016, a dramatic increase from 15 million 10 years prior (2006), or from 1.4 million when CLIA began tracking passengers in 1980. CLIA also said its member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2016 for a total investment of more than $6.5 billion in new ocean vessels alone. Travel agents are also experiencing a higher demand for cruise travel. Eight out of ten CLIA member travel agents said they are expecting an increase in cruise sales in 2016 over last year.

CLIA is also spotlighting Lucky 13 Cruise Industry Trends on what's next for the cruise industry:

1. Rise of the River Cruise -- River cruises are growing in popularity, introducing the experience to new cruise travelers. CLIA cruise line members currently deploy 170 river cruise ships with 18 new river cruise ships on order for 2016, an increase of more than 10 percent.

2. More Ships, More Options -- In 2015, there are a total of 471 CLIA member cruise ships with an additional 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships scheduled to debut in 2016.

3. On the Map -- Five years ago, cruise travel was almost unheard of in Asia. Today, the region is the fastest growing in the cruise industry. Between 2012 and 2014, passenger volume grew from 775,000 to nearly 1.4 million passengers, a 34 percent compound annual growth rate.

4. G'Day for a Cruise -- While Asia continues to grow rapidly, Australia also continues to experience record growth. Australia's cruise industry surpassed a major milestone in 2014, exceeding more than one million passengers in a calendar year. In ten years, Australia's cruise passengers have grown more than six-fold, from a base of 158,000 in 2004.

5. Cruise Specialists -- The cruise industry continues to leverage the expertise of cruise specialists to help guide travel decisions. Today, there are more than 30,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 travel agents in 2010.

6. Connectivity and Cruising -- The cruise industry has made consumers' desire to stay connected while traveling a priority. Most of today's cruises offer a myriad of Wi-Fi, onboard texting and data options.

7. A Love for Luxe -- The desire for luxury travel continues to rise. Specialty cruise lines are responding with yachting experiences, concierge services, exclusive tours, gourmet dining and personal butler service.

8. Brands at Sea -- Cruise lines are leveraging the cross-promotional appeal of brands to appeal to new cruise travelers. From family-friendly household names like LEGO and Dr. Seuss, to upscale luxury brands like Hermes and Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and even dining options like Johnny Rockets and Margaritaville, brands are setting sail on cruise lines.

9. Ships Are the Destination -- While cruise ships were once considered a mode of transportation to get to a desired destination, today, for many, a cruise ship offers the experience of a destination. Today's latest ships offer new onboard experiences and amenities for travelers, from Broadway productions and designer shops to zip lining and bumper cars.

10. Stay the Night -- Many cruise lines are offering overnight stays at designated ports of call to give cruisers an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the experiences available at the destination.

11. Grand(parent) Travel Experiences -- Intergenerational cruising has become a popular selection for family reunions or the family vacation of a lifetime. With cruise amenities designed to satisfy every age from toddler to seniors, cruises provide the togetherness (and the independence) that makes intergenerational family travel a success.

12. Cruise Voluntourism -- More "voluntourism" cruises are available in 2016 with several ships including excursions to help areas of need around the world. These service-oriented cruises offer a wonderful opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the communities cruise ships visit and a rare experience to embrace and impact local culture.

13. Culturally Customized -- Cruise lines are continuing to customize cruise ships based upon passenger cultures. From shopping and dining preferences, vessels are being outfitted to serve guests as well as pay homage to their ports of call.

CLIA also noted the economic impacts of cruise industry expenditures, which generated $119.9 billion in total output worldwide, supporting 939,232 full-time equivalent employees who earned $39.3 billion in income in 2014.